Seat Types

Seat Types

What to look for and when.

Types of car seats to consider

Common terminology used by manufacturers and retailers alike:

Infant capsule
A lightweight & portable car seat with a carry handle.

  • From birth to 13kg (birth to approx 12 months*)
  • Rear facing only
  • Can attach to a buggy (using car seat adapters)
  • Some capsules attach to a base which can be permanently installed in the vehicle

Convertible car seat
A car seat that converts from rear facing to forward facing.

  • Up to 18kg (birth to approx 4 years*)
  • Transitions from rear to forward facing
  • Recline mode

Booster seat
Harnessed booster seat
A seat that has a removable harness which transitions to a booster seat as your child grows.

  • 9 to 18kg (approx 9 months+ to 4 years*)
  • Forward facing only

Non harnessed booster seat
This seat is used for raising a child's position in the car to adapt an adult seat belt making it suitable for a child.

  • 15 to 36kg (approx 3.5 to 11 years*)
  • Forward facing only

*Age guide is indication only. Check manufacturing instructions for weight guide.
+NZ industry recommend that children remain rear facing until at least 2 years of age.

More info

Seat Types:

There are many car seat options on the market and many different ways to categorise them by type or age & stage. Here is terminology commonly used by manufacturers and retailers to make it a bit easier to navigate websites and retail shops alike:

Infant Capsule

Infant capsule (Group 0 or 0+)

Infant capsules or infant car seats are rear facing seats for babies from birth to around 13kg - this can be between 6 to 12 months depending on the growth rate of your child as they normally outgrow the seat before they reach the maximum certified weight limit. The infant capsules are either held into the car with a seat belt or click into a base that is permanently secured to the vehicle seat. You can easily transfer your baby to from the car to the house or even a buggy (using a travel system) which means that you don't have to disturb your sleeping baby. Capsules have excellent front and side impact protection, which is essential for a baby's developing neck and spine.

Key features:

  • From birth to 13kg (birth to approx 12 months*) 
  • Rear facing only
  • Can attach to a buggy (using car seat adapters)
  • Some capsules attach to a base which can be permanently installed in the vehicle

Pros:

  • Light weight and transportable
  • Minimal disturbance of sleeping baby

Cons:

  • Relatively short usage period (infants normally outgrow an infant capsule by 12 months)
  • It is recommended that an infant spends a maximum of 2 hours in an infant capsule at a time.

*Age guide is indication only. Check manufacturing instructions for weight guide

Convertible Car Seat

Convertible car seat (Group 0, 1)

The term convertible car seat generally refers to a seat that converts from rear facing to forward facing. They have a fixed or adjustable recline mode in the rear facing position, which is important for safety and provides an ideal snoozing position. These seats span the gap between an infant capsule and a forward facing toddler or booster seat. The weight ranges vary but as a guide, can be used between 3 months and 4 years.

Key features:

  • Up to 18kg (birth to approx 4 years*)
  • Transitions from rear to forward facing+
  • Recline mode

Pros:

  • Switch the seat from rear- to forward-facing when your infant becomes a toddler

Cons:

  • They don't offer the convenience of a separate infant seat carrier, and they're not compatible with strollers
  • Many also do not fit newborns as well as a dedicated rear-facing infant seat

*Age guide is indication only. Check manufacturing instructions for weight guide
+NZ industry recommend that children remain rear facing until at least 2 years of age

Forward Facing Car Seat

Forward facing Car Seat (Group 1-2)

Forward facing car seats or toddler seats are harnessed seats that will only face the front of the car.

Key features:

  • forward facing only
  • from 2+ to 4 years*

Cons:

  • It is recommended that children remain rear facing until at least 2 years of age, therefore the usage period for this seat is limited.

*Age guide is indication only. Check manufacturing instructions for weight guide
+NZ industry recommend that children remain rear facing until at least 2 years of age

Booster Seat

Booster seat (Group 1, 2 or 3)

Booster seats, sometimes also called toddler seats, are traditionally high backed forward facing seats for an older child. There are harnessed or non harnessed booster seats. Harnessed booster seats have a fixed or removable harness, if removable they can be used from approximately 12 months to 11 years, giving great longevity. A non harnessed booster seat enable a child to use an adult car seat belt, correctly positioned across the chest and pelvis, while still giving side impact protection. A child should stay in a high backed booster seat until they are tall enough to sit in a car seat with an adult seat belt positioned across the chest rather than neck. Booster cushions, where the back of the seat is removed, are no longer recommended as they offer no side impact protection for a child.

Harnessed booster seat
A seat that has a removable harness which transitions to a booster seat as your child grows.

  • 9 to 18kg (approx 9 months+ to 4 years*)
  • Forward facing only

Pros:

  • The ability to accommodate a wide range of sizes and weights increases the useful life of these seats
  • Allows you to keep your child secured with a built-in harness longer

Cons:

  • Some high-back models are quite large seats so may not fit all cars
  • Many do not have a recline mode will not suit some younger children

Non harnessed booster seat 
This seat is used for raising a child's position in the car to adapt an adult seat belt making it suitable for a child.

  • 15 to 36kg (approx 3.5 to 11 years*)
  • Forward facing only

Pros:

  • High-back models with belt-positioning guides can position the shoulder belts better in different vehicles.
  • Many are relatively inexpensive.

Cons:

  • Parents can be tempted to stop using a seat with a harness prematurely because they're often easier to use and they allow a car's safety belts to fit properly.
  • The latest safety research shows that it's best to keep children in a harness as long as possible before switching them to a booster.
  • Booster cushions offer no side impact protection and are therefore no longer recommended

*Age guide is indication only. Check manufacturing instructions for weight guide

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